ALL POSTS TAGGED "summer entertaining"

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Sparkling Hibiscus Cooler

Lately, the use of my porch has bordered on abuse. In the search for the slightest reason to park on the swing or rocker, I’ve come to notice that a beverage is always near and this rosy concoction has been my latest companion. It’s laced with the flavors of fresh ginger and lime, but it’s the addition of sparkling mineral water that truly heightens the level of refreshment. Enjoy sipping it slow in a heavily iced glass that stands for a minute or two. The intentionally tart brew needs no accent, but if you must garnish, a simple lime twist does the trick.

 Norm’s Notes: Ice Ice Baby

I am a recovering ice nerd. I have molds on molds and trays on trays that capture simple water and transform it into a sublime luxury. I still love shattering a few cubes for a slushy drink or using whole chunks for the slow dilution of a cocktail, but after all of my experimentation I made up my mind that the bagged stuff from the grocery store is best. Blasphemy? I don’t think so. The folks who make that stuff know what they’re doing and I find clean filtered water frozen into consistent pieces works best for me. Maybe I’ve become lazy or more efficient in my years, but gone is the quest to make the “perfect” ice cube. Although I still freeze up a tray of large cubes for a Manhattan from time to time, more often than not, I’ll dip into the bag of pre-made crystals and go on about my way.

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Peach Cornbread Slice

The fragrance of ripe peaches is as sensuous as Number 5. They draw you into their presence and urge you to fit just one more in the bag. Once the juicy flavor grenades are brought home, usually two fates await. They will be quickly devoured within the first few days or left to sit around with the best of intentions, ultimately lending themselves to over ripening. Here is an option for what to do with peaches that are on the verge of too ripe: bake up a rich cakey peach cornbread. The recipe uses up a lot of pantry staples keeping the need to go shopping for ingredients to a minimum. It’s slightly sweet, making it able to be served with a smear of creamy butter for breakfast or topped with whipped cream for dessert.

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Island Style Lunch

Maybe it’s the afternoon showers cooling temperatures from oppressive to pleasant or the fact that I’ve watched three surfing documentaries this week, but I’ve craved the tropics. My desperate grasp for a taste of island life has led to a bit of over purchasing, leaving my counter piled high with mangoes and limes. (Don’t judge. They were really cheap and I couldn’t resist.) Now, to use up the bounty, I’ve been eating them with just about every meal. Mango-lime smoothies in the mornings, mango sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder for a snack and my personal favorite, mango slaw with lime dressing to go with lunch or dinner. The slaw recipe is the highlight of the excessive purchase and inspired a lunch/dinner meal where it pairs with marinated short ribs and white rice. The short ribs showcase a salty sweet marinade and cook up quickly on the stove-top or grill, while fragrant hot cooked rice rounds out the plate and balances the robust tropical flavors. The menu is suited for a sensible lunch gathering with a few friends and maybe a few beers. It’s refreshing, yet filling, but won’t leave you so full the rest of the day is unproductive. Enjoy.

Marinated Short Ribs

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Crispy Chicken

Here is a skillet supper that truly uses one pan to create all the components of a great meal. Crispy Chicken Breast Filets, flattened to quicken the cooking process, are paired with sweet corn medallions, bulb onions and fresh tomatoes. It’s a delicious party menu that utilizes peak seasonal ingredients to keep the flavor high and costs low. Outside of the pan, I’ve also included a dessert of Cherry Cream Pie which is a revelation in contrast to the recipes found on the back of cream cheese packets.

Norm’s Notes: Seasoning Salt and Blends

In today’s culinary world, salt and pepper reign as the undisputed kings of flavor enhancement. The numerous variants of sodium chloride and pungent berries are prized among cooks who often adjust and combine different types to meet specific uses. However, store-bought seasoning salts and blends, popular with most home cooks, often get no love. Since many peoples’ cabinets are littered with half full cylinders of them, I think salt and pepper elitism needs to be addressed.

Seasoning salts and blends are great because they will go with just about anything you can think of, quickly enhancing the taste of foods with little effort. The main problem is many of the seasonings lose potency and pungency over time. So that seasoning you bought for that one recipe you made, for that thing, two years ago, may be past its prime. A good rule is if you haven’t used it within the current calendar year, it probably needs to be discarded, but check the expiration date to be sure. My advice is to use seasoning salts and blends often and boldly. Shake a bit on fresh cut veggies, salad, eggs, grits or anywhere you would use salt and pepper or hot sauce. If anyone sticks their nose in the air about your love of seasoning salt and blends, smile at them, shake on more, and enjoy.

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Watermelon Salad with Quick Pickled Jalapeno

Whether you’re lugging home a 15-pounder to slice into wedges or grabbing a pre-cut version, my guess is that your watermelon will generally be served plain. May I recommend you add some intrigue to your melon by pairing its sweet succulent flesh with the fruity spice of jalapeno and acidic tang of lime? The Latin-inspired combination transforms plain ol’ watermelon into a complex dish with loads of sweet and spicy flavor. These 3 recipes are all paired with fresh jalapeno and lime to provide a few more interesting ways to enjoy summer’s unofficial fruit.

Norm’s Notes: Pick a Pepper

I don’t know if it’s because of drought or my selection habits, but most of the chiles (especially jalapeno) I’ve had this year are really, really spicy. Although I generally like spice, sometimes there is such a thing as too hot. If you are in the same boat and want to keep the heat of chiles to a minimum, remove the seeds and inner white membrane with a sharp knife. Doing this will not only reduce the heat level, but will help bring out more of the chiles’ fruity flavor. Also, thinly slicing or finely dicing the peppers helps to evenly distribute the spiciness in a dish, allowing for a more predictable heat level and giving a peppery pop of flavor to each bite.

Delicious Recipes

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Greek Style Baby Artichoke Salad

Baby artichokes are one of those farmers’ market purchases many people commit to due to a persuasive salesperson or solely based on their attractiveness, but soon regret the purchase when left pondering “how do I cook these?” To solve this common problem, here is an illustrated guide on the bare necessities to preparing those prickly pears into something delicious. Included are 4 simple ways to serve these babies to your friends and family.

Norm’s Notes: Trimming Baby Artichokes in 3 simple steps

STEP 1:

Trimming Artichokes Step 1

Pluck away any leaves attached to artichoke stem. Remove tough outer layer covering the stem with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

STEP 2:

Trimming Baby Artichokes Step 2

Cut away top ¼ portion of leaves, leaving a flat surface, cut artichoke in half lengthwise.

STEP 3:

Trimming Baby Artichokes Step 3

Examine each artichoke half to see if the choke (the fuzzy parts right above the heart and just below the purple line ends) is a bit overgrown (the fuzz will tend to stick out from the cut side if overgrown). If they are, carefully scrape away choke with the tip of a paring knife.

Artichoke Recipes

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Even for those of us who make crafts for a living, furnishing an entire party with handmade decor can be a bit of a challenge. Meanwhile, cute store-bought decorations tend to be pricey. The compromise? This summer, simplify your party decor (while still adding a handmade touch) with one simple watercolor technique and your printer.

Make Your Own (Adorable!) Watercolor Party Supplies - HGTV Crafternoon on Design Happen

Watch this week’s video to see how to turn one design into all of these (adorable!) printable party decorations:

YouTube Preview Image

This herringbone design is a fun twist on the trendy pattern, but the sky’s the limit for your template: Try polka dots, stripes, zig zags or an abstract, drippy design. The good news for you? Even if you don’t have time to create your own custom pattern, you still can download our ready-made party supply templates right here…for free!

Download the Party Supply Templates Now

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curbly summer round-up

In last week’s Easy Summer Entertaining post, we started to get ready for our backyard BBQs and mellow get-togethers with our friends and family. Since we plan on keeping the cooler packed all summer long, here is Part 2 of low-key, fun, summer entertaining ideas. To start off, we are diving into a meta moment with this summer entertaining round-up by Curbly in my summer entertaining round-up.

Cup of Jo refreshing waters

For a cleansing refreshment, try out these three different all-natural flavored waters on Cup of Jo.

watermelon salad

Any watermelon salad is oh-so-summer and just screams refreshing. This one, in particular, looks mouth-watering and delicious. Via Design Sponge.

More Summer Fun

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Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

If clear summer weather is in the forecast this weekend, consider entertaining off-site and host a picnic in the park. Round up a few friends and have everyone pitch in and bring components to create a fabulous meal. One person should bring sides (store bought or homemade — it doesn’t matter), another brings the fresh fruit and beverages, and another a main entree like fried chicken fingers. Finally, you arrive with this show stopping sandwich and a simple dessert, if desired. I recently pitched in hosting  a picnic in the park and created this grilled vegetable, mozzarella and prosciutto sandwich for the occasion. My friends dubbed it “The Symphony.” I’d like to think it was due to the delicious and harmonious taste of the sandwich, however, since our picnic was at an outdoor symphony performance, I think other factors were involved. Regardless of the name sake, it is a fantastic item to bring to your next gathering, whether indoors or out. Click to see the recipe and tips for packing up a portable outdoor meal.

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Lemon-Vanilla Custard

The finale of the Summer Entertaining Toolkit presents a sweet send off with Lemon-Vanilla Custard. This luxurious confection has the perfect balance of sweetness and richness. Think of it as refrigerator ice cream; a creamy, dreamy treat that tops a variety of ripe summer fruit and baked goods or is great, on its own, a spoonful at a time. [FYI, a few dollops of custard over sliced fresh bananas and vanilla wafers makes for one great tasting banana pudding as well!] This easy one-pot dessert comes together in no time and will delight your palate with its silky sweet taste.

The featured recipe will make about 8 servings depending on how much you decide to spoon on. A heaping tablespoon or two usually does the trick. However, it is easily doubled to serve twice the amount of individual servings or be used in a large trifle dish layered with fresh fruit and cubed pound cake to feed a crowd. Use ripe summer stone fruit like peaches, cherries, nectarines, and plums or fresh berries for the best results. Fresh cut melon is not a good choice to serve with this custard since they tend to water out when the custard is added, leading to a milky watery mess in the bottom of the serving bowl. Try the custard for breakfast, spooned over waffles or pancakes and topped with chopped fruit. Or smear on a piece of fresh pound cake for a quick dessert.

Overall, this recipe follows the same theme of versatility and customization as the other recipes included in my Summer Entertaining Toolkit. I hope this program has provided core recipes that you may incorporate into gatherings throughout the season. They all work together as a full menu, but try options where you break them out individually and compose a meal based around one or more. I encourage you to play and experiment with the menu to make it your own.

 Norm’s Notes: Canning Jars as Serveware

Canning jars offer a casual appeal in serving your menu and are cheap enough to be purchased in bulk when hosting a large number of guests. Use them for individual servings of dessert, green salad, or as holders for flatware on a buffet. My preference is for the wide-mouth variety because they are easy to fill and eat out of. I also use canning jars as holders for tea-light candles outdoors as they are sturdy enough to survive a slight wind gust without tipping. Place jars of varying heights and volumes to create mood lighting at the table or pack a few with fresh cut flowers for a simple centerpiece. Personally, I steer away from them when serving beverages since the screw top glass feels a bit unsophisticated, but if you like them for that purpose, go for it. A case of 12 wide mouth half-pints or pints costs around $12 to $15 and will serve you well over the year, whether as a container for banana pudding or quick table lantern.

Lemon-Vanilla Custard Trifle

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Meatballs with Sauce

If you have been reading the past two weeks, you now have a new summer cocktail and a go-to appetizer. Today, it’s time to get to the meat of the menu, literally. This installment of the Summer Entertaining Toolkit features an entree of rich pork meatballs. If this doesn’t strike you as an ideal summer main dish, let me explain the value. The key selling points to this recipe are ease of preparation and versatility of serving. Meatballs are not much work to assemble and can be cooked in advance of your gathering, then simply sauced and reheated when guests arrive. These specific mounds are bold in flavor and succulently juicy thanks to the rich fatty bacon and pungent herbs that pulse throughout. The combination of flavors are not only delicious on their own, but allow for easy pairing with a variety of sauces. Whether covered with a favorite red sauce, creamy garlicky white sauce, such as Alfredo, or Asian-style sweet and spicy red chili sauce, these meatballs compliment both savory and sweet tastes. Serving options are also customizable. Nestle the meatballs atop hot cooked pasta, grilled fresh vegetables, or hearty risotto and ferry to the table spread on a large platter, family style, or serve individually plated. Also, try slicing and layering them on fresh pizza dough spread with a spicy red sauce. Top with fresh mozzarella slices, then bake, grill, or broil to cook and crisp the dough and melt the cheese. Finish with a light covering of torn fresh basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan. Any way you try them, they are a welcome departure from typical summer proteins and will give your guests a pleasant supper surprise.

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Sure, Labor Day might be the unofficial end of summer, but we still have two full weeks of the season left, not to mention months of prime let’s-have-a-party-outside weather.

Jonathan Adler

Color and Design Expert Jonathan Adler

We chatted with iconic designer Jonathan Adler to find out his top three outdoor party essentials, go-to foods and party pet peeves. Why not use his tips this weekend?

Watch the interview now:

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There are many big issues facing the country on this summer Friday. Obviously, the most important of them all is what to order as your drink of choice when the work bell rings and you head to happy hour. We recommend creating a fruity smorgasbord of deliciousness with a pitcher of sangria. Whether you are a fan of the white wine or the red wine variety, either party can agree that sipping on a tall, cold glass of sangria will eventually lead to happiness, camaraderie and yes, even world peace (or at least peace on your patio of choice).

Foodnetwork.com California Rose Punch

FoodNetwork.com's California Rose Punch

Happy Hour Style: The Beauty of Bar Carts

Foodnetwork.com Tropical Sangria

FoodNetwork.com's Tropical Sangria

Sangria also scores on the fruit front. Drinking a glass comes with a healthy shot of vitamin C from the wine soaked oranges, nectarines and berries. Head to the market and fill up your cart in the fruit aisle and then grab a bottle of your favorite vino. You are set for a sangria summer night.

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It might not have shown up on your calendar today as a date to remember, but August 10 is officially National S’mores Day. What better way to celebrate such a holiday than by roasting up this delicious treat and sipping fun drinks on a glamorous camping trip – otherwise known as “glamping.” We’ve got tips for throwing the perfect backyard camping party and a chocolate cocktail to keep you cool on hot summer nights.

Happy Hour Cocktails: The Full Collection

Glamping Tip 1: Whether you are glamping in your backyard or in the woods, there are a few things to remember when setting up your campsite. Always make sure to pitch the tent on level ground. Clear sticks and stones away beforehand. Pick a tent (or canopy or fort made out of blankets) that fits your needs. Want to set up a table with enough chairs for friends? You’ll need a bit more coverage than if your glamping adventure is a snug little area for two.

Tips for Glamourous Camping Glamping

Glamping Tip 2: Throw an outdoor dinner party during your glamping trip. Invite friends over for a barbecue, buffet dinner, or sit-down dinner – just remember to keep the theme casual and the clean up quick and easy.

Tips for Glamourous Camping Glamping

Glamping Tip 3: Serve a signature cocktail.This twist on a hot chocolate drink is perfect to cool your guests off on a hot summer night.

Texican Tailgate Cocoa Freeze Cocktail Recipe

Cocoa Freeze Cocktail Recipe

So, call up your friends, mix up some drinks and stoke the fire. You’ve got s’mores to make and glamping to do!

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It’s hard to imagine a summer cookout with out one staple item: a tray filled with giant slices of watermelon. This refreshing treat screams summer. But, when you get down to it, it can also scream mess – it’s not the easiest food to eat. The solution for having your watermelon and drinking it too? A watermelon cocktail.

Happy Hour Cocktails: The Full Collection

Whether you prefer frozen or on the rocks, these watermelon libations are the perfect way to update your weekend cookout. Click on the pictures below to get check out these recipes.

Frozen Waterberry Batida

Get the Recipe: Frozen Waterberry Batida

 

Mellow Melon Margarita

Get the Recipe: Mellow Melon Margarita

 

Find more ideas for easy recipes for a summer party.
 

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Don’t let the title of this blog confuse you – we aren’t saying that as a result of today’s happy hour you should hop, skip and go naked (but hey, it is summer…and it is hot out). Instead, keep your clothes on and enjoy some of this fun summer punch. In addition to having a name that in itself is a great conversation piece, Hop Skip and Go Naked Punch is also a favorite because it has something for everyone. With a recipe that calls for cold beer AND whiskey, you know you can’t lose.

Hop Skip and Go Naked PunchHop Skip and Go Naked Punch

The recipe calls for six cans of beer, a pint of whiskey, a can of frozen lemonade and two liters of soda. In other words, it’s meant to be shared with friends. So whip up a batch and invite the neighbors over, surprise your coworkers with an afternoon treat or be the most popular person at your family reunion.

Happy Hour Cocktails: The Full Collection

The punch can of course be made without the alcohol and the fizzy lemonade mixture would surely be welcome on a hot summer afternoon. However, that drink might just be called Hop Skip Punch because we are fairly sure that that naked part goes hand in hand with the whiskey and beer. Enjoy!

See more tips for summer entertaining including cool drinks, party tips and chic centerpieces.

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The heat of summer can be overwhelming. When temperatures soar into the 100′s, the last thing you want is a warm glass of red wine or a heavy beer. You need to cool off with a fresh, minty treat – a mojito. This simple drink screams summer and is the perfect accessory to relax with by the pool (or on the driveway, on the beach, in a fancy restaurant – it’s very versatile!).

Classic Mojito RecipeClassic Mojitos

Once you’ve made your simple syrup, mix in rum, lime juice and soda water. Head to your garden (or grocery store) for a few sprigs of mint and you have the perfect warm weather refreshment.

Happy Hour Cocktails: The Full Collection

If you prefer to cool off without alcohol, then this mocktail needs to be added to your beverage rotation. The fresh taste of grapefruit paired with mint is a taste that’s not to be missed.

Virgin Grapefruit MojitoVirgin Grapefruit Mojito

So raise your glass to summer and say cheers to mojitos!

Find more great mojito recipes on Food.com.

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This week it’s all about outdoor entertaining. For part three of our summer party essentials miniseries, event planner Calder Clark of Calder Clark Designs shares her simple entertaining must-haves for a seamless — yet fun gathering for everyone on your guest list. And with events like the Rockefeller-Carnegie wedding under her belt, Calder knows how to bring stylish touches to the backyard. Check out Calder’s decorating and buffet picks for ideas for your next soiree.

hgtv magazine summer party essentials calder clarkEvent planner Calder Clark offers her favorite summer entertaining must-haves.

Every Warm-Weather Party Needs…

hgtv magazine summer party essentials place settingsTeal Stripe Solera dinner plates, target.com :: Chalkboard Vinyl, voguefabricsstore.com

Plastic Plates: “Every summer I stock up on melamine plates from Target. They’re just two bucks a pop, and are dishwasher-safe.”

Chalkboard Place Mats: “This makes a great kids’ table activity — I use pinking shears to cut the reusable fabric into squares and put out chalk for doodling.”

hgtv magazine summer party essentials decor20″ no frills lantern, lunabazaar.com :: 10″ sparklers, sparklersonline.com

Paper Lanterns: “Hang these in abundance from tree limbs. Use all one color to pack a punch.”

Sparklers!!!: “These little goodies are the life of the party.”

The Buffet Always Has…

hgtv magazine summer party essentials foodAcrylic pitcher, crateandbarrel.com :: Mamie’s Famous Cheese Wafers, mamieswafers.com

Spiked Lemonade: “Gotta love a tasty spiked lemonade! The hot sauce doesn’t change the color, but it gives the drink a spicy kick.”

Get Calder’s signature Cajun lemonade recipe, perfect for hot summer days:

Calder’s Cajun Lemonade

  • 24 oz. store-bought lemonade
  • 8 oz. Bacardi light rum
  • 8 oz. soda water
  • Original Louisiana Hot Sauce

Directions: Mix the lemonade, rum and soda water in a large pitcher. Serve with ice; add hot sauce to each drink, to taste. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Quick and Easy Finger Foods: “Slice-and-bake cheese wafers are my number-one crowd-pleaser. They have a nutty, sharp flavor that tastes homemade, but they come right out of the freezer.”

See more of Calder’s simple entertaining ideas and others in this summer’s HGTV Magazine (check out page 136) — on newsstands now! And for more can’t-miss entertaining ideas, check out HGTV.com’s Outdoor Entertaining guide.

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For part two of our summer party essentials miniseries, upscale event planner Yifat Oren of Yifat Oren & Associates shares her top seven must-haves when hosting warm-weather gatherings. Although she produces high-end events for celebrity clients like Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore, she prefers her own parties to be “laid-back, ecofriendly and fun.” From casual place settings to budget-chic decor, follow Yifat’s essentials for the perfect low-key get-together.

hgtv magazine entertaining essentials yifat orenUpscale event planner Yifat Oren shares her top seven summer party essentials.

Every Warm-Weather Party Needs…

hgtv magazine summer entertaining essentials invitationsSummer Fun Citrus Slice invitation, cocodot.com

Easy Invites: “I usually blast an informal email invite to friends on cocodot.com.”

hgtv magazine summer entertaining essentials place settings7″ compostable starch plates, sustyparty.com :: Rainbow Stripey Straw mix, shopsweetlulu.com :: Tekla dish towels, ikea.com

Earth-Friendly Plates: “These colorful plates are biodegradable.”

Paper Straws: “They’re cute and popular with the kids, but adults love them too.”

Clever Napkins: “I buy these dish towels in bulk — you can’t beat the price — and use them as napkins.”

hgtv magazine summer entertaining essentials decorSmith & Hawken 10-count string lights, target.com :: Alseda stool, ikea.com

Mood Lighting: “Stringer lights make any yard look better. Drape them above the food table or hang them from tree to tree.”

Extra Seating: “Scatter these little rattan ottomans around outside — they’re chicer than folding lawn chairs.”

hgtv magazine summer entertaining essentials lawn gamesTournament Bocce, llbean.com

Lawn Games: “Bocce is perfect for the backyard — lots of people can play or watch.”

See more of Yifat’s low-key party planning tips and others in this summer’s HGTV Magazine (flip to page 134) — on newsstands now! And check back next week for more quick and easy entertaining ideas from the pros.

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Planning a backyard party doesn’t have to be stressful. As a matter of fact, it should be fun! For the next two weeks, just sit back and let us do some of the planning for you. In this Design Happens miniseries, full-time party planners share their summer party essentials, from bocce ball to chalkboard place mats.

This week Jung Lee, event designer and cofounder of Fête, shares her top party must-haves for the season. Jung says she likes to keep her gatherings simple and alfresco. Want to steal her secrets? Check out her tips below.

jung lee hgtv magazineParty planner Jung Lee shares her summer soiree must-haves.

Every Warm-Weather Party Needs…

hgtv magazine summer party essentials

Tablecraft galvanized steel oval beverage tub, Wayfair :: Tava flatware caddy in honey stain, Pottery Barn

A Tub for Drinks: “Ice down Stewart’s sodas in a giant metal tub, and let your guests serve themselves.”

A Utensil Caddy: “I’m smitten with this rattan design for hauling out flatware and napkins.”

hgtv magazine summer party essentials

UniFlame 32″ aged bronze steel wood-burning fire pit, Lowes :: Optoma EP-PK-101 Pico pocket projector, Amazon

A Fire Pit: “For a little campfire fun, I put out marshmallows, graham crackers and dark chocolate for s’mores.”

A Movie Projector: “This nifty gadget plugs into your iPhone and projects downloaded movies onto the back of the house.”

The Buffet Always Has…

hgtv magazine summer party essentials

Govino stemless wine glasses, CB2 :: Clos Beylesse Côtes de Provence Vin Bleu Rose, nywines.com :: Frozen pizza, Trader Joe’s

Party-Friendly Wine Glasses: “These cups look like crystal, but they’re actually shatterproof plastic.”

Food That’s Delicious + Quick to Prepare: “I like to thaw frozen pizzas, then put them on the grill and set out toppings for guests to customize slices.”

The Perfect Summer Beverage: “Serve refreshing rosé as the sun is going down. It’s the perfect summer drink, and this one is one of my favorites.”

See more of Jung’s party planning tips and others in this summer’s HGTV Magazine (page 133, to be exact) — on newsstands now! And don’t forget to come back next week for more pre-Fourth of July entertaining ideas.

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